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Date of Issue: November 09, 2006

Key Royale Bridge deck to be poured

Royale Bridge pic

Workers replacing the Key Royale Bridge planned to begin pouring a concrete deck this week, probably on Thursday.

That was the word from the various parties involved in the $3.4 million bridge project meeting at Holmes Beach City Hall on Nov. 2 to share updates and forecasts.

Cemex Inc. trucks will haul the concrete from the mainland. Construction crews will pour the concrete in stages using a bucket.

The deck pour will take about seven days, but not impact the traffic pattern motorists have become familiar with since construction began, according to William Thomas Jr., spokesperson for the DOT in the District 1 office in Bartow.

The bridge work started more than three months ago - as of Nov. 2 the project was 112 days into the contracted 283 "allowable" days.

The project involves building a 153-foot, two-lane low-level bridge a minimum of 10.3 feet above the waterline and with a horizontal clearance of 32 feet.

The work will occur in three phases, Thomas said.

Phase 1, which is currently under way, involves removing and replacing the first section of the old bridge.

In Phase 2, traffic will be shifted to the new bridge section and the rest of the structure will be removed and replaced. That traffic shift is expected in late December.

During Phase 3, expected to begin in mid-April 2007, both lanes of the bridge will be open. The work will be taking place on the shoulders, sidewalks, curbs, gutters and dressing sod, Thomas said.

During last week's meeting, managers and contractors discussed the deck pour, construction of the barrier walls and placement of conduit and navigational lights on the bridge.

They also briefly discussed a complaint from a homeowner about the rip-rap - large, course rock used to stabilize the shore and reduce water erosion - under the bridge.

The homeowner felt the material was unsightly and so a compromise was struck, said Kent A. Duaderman, associate project administrator for the DOT. The rip-rap will be covered with smaller, bedding stone.

Motorists crossing the bridge last week encountered delays about the length of a routine traffic-light stop and none interviewed by The Islander complained.

"It's not too bad at all," said Jenny Phinney of Bradenton. "I drive it regularly to get out here and back, but to me it's become just another red light."

"I'd mind if I had to sit long, but I've never waited more than a few minutes I don't think," said Islander Tramm Petersen. "I don't know that we needed to spend the money to have it done, but it'll be nice when it's over."

State and federal transportation officials have said the project was needed for safety reasons, specifically the evacuation of the Key Royale community as a storm approached. Designed to carry 3,200 vehicles each day when it was completed in 1960, the bridge was serving nearly 4,700 vehicles per day by 2001, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation survey.

The bridge project encountered repeated delays over the years, primarily over funding and permitting and disagreement over the urgency of the work.

The project was scheduled for funding in the fiscal 2004-05 DOT budget, the 2005-06 DOT budget, the 2006-07 DOT budget and then a DOT work plan in late April showed funding in the 2007-08 DOT budget.

At the urging of Holmes Beach officials, the city borrowed funding and will pay interest to advance the construction. The city anticipates reimbursement from the state when the project comes up in the DOT's budget.

The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2007.

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